You have been hearing the words sustainable fashion, eco-friendly clothing and maybe responsible fashion consumption used a lot lately and these terms have become of great interest to you. You have now decided that this is the kind of lifestyle and environmental activism you would like to contribute towards because it feels good to identify problems and come up with solutions to them. However, you are not ready to part with the clothes you have collected so far or you don’t necessarily over-consume, so how can you contribute effectively moving forward?
Sustainability as a concept incorporates more than an environmentally aware supply chain, it also looks at the ethics and social ramifications of responsible production and consumption methods. For an aspiring sustainable fashion consumer, I would suggest that you look at the tags when purchasing your next set of clothes. Below are some of the most harmful materials to look out for on the tags and work extremely hard to avoid:
- Animal Byproducts: Animals have suffered in the past, due to trends, and continue to suffer today at the hands of dishonest fashion producers who claim to have stopped using animal byproducts such as leather and fur. Instead look for plant based alternatives which are just as stylish but don’t have bearing on your conscious for hurting live animals that do not deserve to be experimented on for the sake of fashion. For example, a great alternative to leather includes items made with recycled rubber.
2. Synthetics: Polyester is a great threat to sustainable fashion production due to the fact that it is extremely difficult to recycle, and other synthetics include items made from nylon and acrylics. As one of the most used textiles globally, it is our responsibility as sustainable consumers to disrupt its levels of production by reducing our consumption of the material. Alternatively you can purchase accessories made from natural materials like wooden earrings, which will last longer.
3. Cotton: Cotton is a very common material used in clothing, however, we should never allow time and familiarity to guide our instincts where sustainable consumption is concerned. Cotton is associated with extreme environmental and social issues that contribute towards labour abuse, water waste and the use of harmful pesticides. Try to replace cotton products, particularly t-shirts which are a global favourite, with hemp. Hemp, much like lyocell and bamboo, is more durable, absorbent and insulates better than cotton.
The world of sustainable fashion can be daunting for new conscious consumers, particularly when it comes to making decisions that involve money and convenience. Most people do not want to change where they shop or to spend more money when purchasing clothes, which is why it is important to take small steps towards change. however, overtime, an aspiring sustainable fashion consumer will start to understand that going the extra mile to educate themselves or to take that extra second to evaluate a product is making headway away from fast fashion production and consumption.
Getting into the habit of looking at the tag will not only encourage responsible consumption, it will also force retailers to engage with sustainable consumption methods and up-skill their workers on the importance of catering to different types of consumers. This will slowly encourage sustainable consumption habits within the economy and public participation in environmental issues.